Up & (Mostly) Up
Once upon a time the Glastonbury festival was, as Pulp once had it, twenty thousand people standing in a field. And nothing more. These days however the (mostly) annual music festival staged each June is a major showcase for some of the biggest acts of the moment, the near total televising of the event and most particularly the prime time exposure afforded to the nightly headliners means it is promotional gold for the artists involved. And, as Adele and Coldplay discover this week, the 2016 edition of the event is no different.
Headlining the Pyramid Stage on Saturday night the at first startling choice of Adele turned out to be yet another booking masterstroke. She charmed the crowd, swore to censor-worrying extents and in the process sent her current album 25 charging back to the top of the Official UK Albums chart. In truth she may well have come close anyway, thanks to the cork finally coming out of the bottle and the all-conquering release finally being made available for streaming in full on the major streaming sites. But who can argue against the power of Glastonbury and of course live TV exposure?
It is the fourth time the album has topped the charts in this country, this now its 13th week in total at the top. That's still some way short of the 23 weeks clocked up by its predecessor 21 back in 2011, that album like most of Adele's catalogue receiving a dramatic boost in sales and chart performance this week. We finally have an answer to the question "is there really anyone who doesn't own a copy of Adele's albums by now?" - "Glastonbury attendees and viewers".
Adele also reaps the rewards on the Official UK Singles chart too. One week after I wondered if third singles from Adele albums served any kind of purpose Send My Love (To Your New Lover) rams those words down my throat, leaping nine places to Number 6. 25 thus becomes the first of Adele's three albums to date to spawn three Top 10 hit singles. Both 19 and 21 were home to two each, although the second one from her debut - her cover of Dylan's Make You Feel My Love - didn't actually reach the Top 10 until late 2010, almost three years after it was first released.
As for the Sunday night headliners, well they were Coldplay and despite not quite managing to top Adele they do at least see current album A Head Full Of Dreams return to second place on the album chart, its highest placing since it topped the charts for a solitary week back in February. On the singles chart it is the album's second single Hymn For The Weekend which reaps the benefits, charging 11 places to Number 19, the first time it has been a Top 20 single since mid-April. The continuing attention gained by this track may be to the slight dismay of band and label who are busy pushing the third single from the album Up&Up as the 'current' Coldplay release. Frustratingly despite encouraging amounts of radio airplay the gospel-influenced track has resolutely failed to grab the attention of the public and only now does it actually penetrate the published end of the singles chart, entering at Number 71.
During the course of their set Coldplay and Chris Martin paid tribute to the late Viola Beach, performing one of their songs and expressing the hope that it might propel the tragic group back into the singles chart once more. The song in question was their final recording Boys That Sing but despite a determined charge up the iTunes chart the track can only reach Number 50 - at the very least its best placing to date after it first reached Number 80 in February alongside the band's other single Swings And Waterslides which reached the Top 40 in the wake of the accident which killed them and their tour manager back in February. Whilst these may be the only two singles ever released by the group they had more or less finished work on what would have been their debut album - a collection we are due to hear for ourselves in a few weeks time.
Movement. We've Heard Of It
The rise of the Adele single into the Top 10 is literally the only ripple of activity at the top end of the singles chart once again, and extraordinarily she replaces the very single which was the only entry last week, Sigala's Give Me Your Love still struggling from its slow start on the streaming market and dips to Number 17. In contrast to last week's chart however the remaining 9 incumbents do rearrange themselves a little. Sadly for the moment that doesn't apply to the very top as wouldn't you just know it the midweeks mislead us once again. One Dance by Drake, Wizkid and Kyla is Britain's Number One single for the 12th straight week. The fact that I only get around to mentioning it this far into this piece tells you all you need to know about the lack of sensation this is. Put simply we are now running out of things to say about the recording. And once again it is the same story, its paid for sales continue to sag (although still enough to ensure it retains a place as one of the Top 10 most purchased singles of the week) but its streaming totals still hold up enough to give it an edge over the rest of the market. One Dance by now is selling few enough copies to be one of the more indifferent Number One singles of recent times, but there just isn't any other single right now which has been able to move the kind of numbers to overcome the top sellling Canadian. And as the still becalmed Top 10 will tell you, there is for the moment little sign of anything on the way that could conceivably do so right now.
Indeed the most significant move just below the top of the charts is the 5-3 jump of the Drake/Rihanna duet Too Good which now reaches a brand new peak after a nine week chart run. It does raise the spectacle that after three months of waiting the artist to finally knock Drake off the top of the charts could well be Drake himself. With Rihanna's performing role on the Calvin Harris single This Is What You Came For locked solid at Number 4 for a third straight week it now means both Drake and Rihanna have managed the impressive feat of appearing on two simultaneous Top 10 hit singles for the last nine weeks in a row.
Don't Let Us Down Now
But I'll find you new songs to talk about even if it kills me. A Glastonbury performance is also being credited for the rise in fortunes of Chainsmokers who this week see their current single Don't Let Me Down climb to a new peak of Number 16 after hanging around the lower end of the charts for 12 weeks. That's enough to match the peak of the duo's previous chart hit Roses and maintains their 100% strike rate of Top 20 hits. Their highest charting single remains their debut, the ostensibly novelty hit #SELFIE which reached Number 11 in March 2014.
Hype It To The Hills
The highest new entry of the week is indeed a single which received a great deal of Hype. The track in question is the new single from Dizzee Rascal, his first chart single as a lead artist since Love This Town reached Number 35 in the closing weeks of 2013. The single reunites him with a man who has been his talisman in the past, Calvin Harris who gets a co-performers credit on the track. It is the first time the two men have appeared together on record since the famous Dance Wiv Me which shot to the top of the singles chart almost exactly eight years ago. Hype is the 13th most purchased but only the 65th most streamed track of the week, resulting in a combined position on the Official UK Singles chart of Number 34.
Watch This Space
The continuing stagancy of the Top 10 and the epic Number One run of One Dance means that people continue to bend my ear about the perceived shortcomings of "the singles chart" (as if it was a living breathing entity in itself) or more accurately the methodology used to compile it. I've never seen it my place to take a stance one way or the other, save to note that for all the frustration that its streaming lead has left Drake marooned at the top of the singles chart long after the actual sales life of the single has taken a dip, Once Dance remains for now a Top 10 hit single on the sales rankings. It isn't as if people are streaming it outside of any other market appeal it may have. The record continues to be purchased in some numbers, it is just a freak of nature (and some very poor competition) that leaves it without a solid contender at Number One.
That is not to say other's haven't been more strident. Some of the stakeholders of the Official Charts Company have apparently been getting restless, questioning whether the formula and sales:streams ratio which was carefully calculated back in the summer of 2014 to properly reflect the shape of the competing markets hasn't now been rendered out of date by the seismic shift that has occurred since with an exponential rise in music listening and a still gentle decline in the act of monetary purchase. Word reaches me from an impeccable industry source that we might well be about to see an adjustment to the aforementioned ratio, at least where singles are concerned. If it happens (and for now it is being denied) you heard it here first.